News

University recognised for its contribution to regional business growth

31 March 2021

Supporting businesses across the East Midlands to develop new ideas and products, as well as to cut their carbon footprint, has earned the University of Derby a high ranking in a key national measure of how higher education contributes to society.

The Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), overseen by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), looks at a diverse range of activities that universities undertake in their communities and regions. The data from UKRI’s assessment of this work is available on KEF’s interactive and detailed new website.

The University of Derby has been placed in the top ten per cent of universities in two key categories: ‘Local Growth and Regeneration’ and ‘Working with Business’.

Over the past five years, the University has been focused on delivering its Local Growth Strategy, including initiatives such as Invest to Grow, which offers companies grants and loans of up to £250,000 to innovate, grow and create jobs.

By delivering £26m to local companies, the Invest to Grow scheme has unlocked a further £98m of private sector funding, and met its job creation target of 1,900 posts in SMEs four years ahead of schedule.

Enabling business to decarbonise, and reduce costs as well as carbon emissions, has also been a key element of the strategy. Working with Derbyshire County and Derby City councils, the University runs the DE-Carbonise scheme, offering low carbon technology expertise to businesses.

Invest to Grow has supported the creation of 1,900 jobs - four years ahead of target.

Professor Warren Manning, Provost – Innovation and Research, said: “KEF is a hugely important measure of a university’s impact and is a chance to showcase the extent of our support for the economic, social and cultural life of our community and region.

“As the only university in Derby and Derbyshire, we relish the civic responsibility this entails and the opportunity it gives us to develop long-term collaborative relationships with businesses, our regional funding and support agencies, and government.

“It gives businesses the chance to benefit not only from the funding we can provide access to, but also from the resources and expertise we can offer to support research and development which helps to make our business community more competitive and our region more prosperous.”

Professor Warren Manning seated outside Markeaton Street.

As the only university in Derby and Derbyshire, we relish the civic responsibility this entails and the opportunity it gives us to develop long-term collaborative relationships with businesses, our regional funding and support agencies, and government.

Professor Warren Manning
Provost - Innovation and Research

Start-up companies have been supported by the University’s business incubation units and it has promoted entrepreneurial skills through its pioneering Be The Boss Scheme for undergraduates. Its efforts have helped 143 students to register their own business since 2015.

The University’s specialism in the transport and automotive industry has seen the development of the Rail Research and Innovation Centre and the Enscite project, but its contribution to the arts in the city, including its ownership of the award-winning Derby Theatre, has also been an important element of the strategy.

The high placing in the Working With Business category reflects the efforts of the University to find graduates with the skills needed to help businesses in the region grow and develop through a variety of schemes.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, supported by funding from the national innovation agency Innovate UK, the Driven internship scheme and Productivity Through Innovation have together generated more than 700 opportunities across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, developing new products and processes, and embedding each graduate’s skills and knowledge within the company.

Picture of Chatsworth House
The University established a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Chatsworth House in 2019.

Professor Manning added: “As we move from a very challenging 12 months for us all, we can focus on an exciting year ahead at Derby as we develop the new Facility for Omics Research in Metabolism (FORM), with support from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, which will enable to us to work more closely with local companies in the growing biomedical sector.

“We are working closely with the City Council and our strategic partners on Derby’s economic recovery plans, and have endorsed the city’s ambitions to become a centre for future fuels technology.

“The University aims to make a positive impact in our region, as well as to open doors and to promote social mobility. To achieve all those things, we are continually exploring and opening up new opportunities to bring lasting prosperity and wellbeing to our community and our region.”

For more information about the University's contribution to business and the community, visit the Knowledge Exchange Framework pages of our website.

For further information contact the Corporate Communications team at pressoffice@derby.ac.uk or call 01332 593419.